10 Newsletter Design Best Practices: Maximize Engagement

Read time: 13 min
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10 Newsletter Design Best Practices: Maximize Engagement
Try Publicate For Free Today
Read time: 13 min

The greatest resource these days is attention and time.

When it comes to email marketing and email communications, grabbing the attention of a reader who is already being swarmed by dozens or hundreds of emails (plus countless other forms of digital communications) can be a challenge.

By the same token, you’re a busy professional who doesn’t have time or resources to waste desiging email communications from scratch. Let’s see how newsletter design best practices, along with the aid of email builder software, can help capture attention and save money and time!

Guide Index
Different elements of design on a computer screen
Picture from Unsplash

What is Email Newsletter Design?

Email newsletter design consists of the copy (text) and design elements (visuals) of an email newsletter. This includes features such as branding, images, videos, and other multimedia used. The subject line is also part of your email newsletter design, believe it or not!

Email newsletter design (both copy and visuals) work together to make up your email communications and are what makes or breaks a successful campaign or one that needs a little extra love.

Why is Email Newsletter Design Important?

Email newsletter design, like any form of design, makes up an identity. For businesses, your email newsletter design is what will make a first and hopefully lasting impression upon your audience. Besides impression-making, email newsletter design is what will entice a reader to actually open, read through, and click-through your content.

It’s the vehicle that moves your message from point A to point B. Along with highlighting your business’ value, email newsletter design can make or break a customer or employee's trust and engagement with your business.

Plus, with so many emails being read on mobile devices, responsiveness is part of design. By building responsive emails, you can ensure that anyone can read your content across whatever device they choose to open their emails with.

What Makes a Good Email Newsletter Design?

The best email newsletter designs, be it for a monthly newsletter or one sent at your desired frequency, consist of a few must-have elements. These include:

1. Email Header

The email header is the first thing that readers will see as it sits at the top of your email, hence the term header. When it comes to eye-catching headers, less is more. Make sure the copy is to-the-point and the colors and visuals aren’t overwhelming.

2. Email Content

Importantly, the email content is what your communications is all about. Prioritize the most important messages at the top and balance the copy with the visuals.

3. Visuals

Visual components, such as images, .GIFs, and videos, help to break up the text and lead the reader’s eyes to where you want them to go.

4. Call-to-Actions

Every email newsletter should have one or a few intended next steps, which a call-to-action directs them towards. This could be, “Read More,” “Learn More,” “Buy Now,” or any other next step.

5. Email Footer

An email footer closes off your content with any extra information that doesn’t neatly fit or belong in the body. Email footers may include unsubscribe links, the business contact information, social media links, terms & conditions, etc.

With an email builder, all of these components are already mapped out for you as part of a pre-built template. All you have to do is simply input the content using drag-and-drop functions and customize as you see fit to align the look and feel with your business’ branding. Given the ease of use, there’s no need for coders or designers!

What are Email Newsletter Design Best Practices?

With the components in mind, let’s get into what you came here to see, namely newsletter design best practices! Here are a couple to get you started and keep you going during your email newsletter creation process:

1. Prioritize Mobile Responsiveness

Email design should be a priority across every device that your audience will use to engage with your newsletters. But, when creating HTML emails from scratch, they need to be coded to render right across desktops, tablets, and mobile devices because they have different screen sizes.

When you use a responsive email builder, the templates have been pre-tested across dozens of email providers and screen sizes to ensure that your email shows up as you intend, no matter where it’s opened.

2. Use of Multimedia

Copy is paramount when it comes to crafting communications, but that’s not to say that visuals and design aren't of equal importance. In fact, animation, videos, and .GIFs can be a game changer to grab your reader’s attention, so it’s always a good idea to mix it up.

With an email builder like Publicate, you can use the tool’s image editor to adjust, resize, and crop images directly within your design phase so you can be confident that your images will appear for your audience exactly how you see them.

3. Mindful of Whitespace

Less is more! You’ve heard it before, but as a newsletter design tip, it means leaving some space open. While it’s called whitespace, it doesn’t necessarily have to be white if the background of your newsletter is a different color. This just means leaving some space without visuals or copy to make for a pleasing reading experience.

4. Aligned with Branding

Naturally, with the influx of emails that your employees and customers get per day, you want yours to stick out as your business’! That’s where branding comes in. Include your business’ branding within the communications.

You can do this by incorporating your logo, brand’s color palette, and typography, for example. The messaging should also be in line with your company’s tone of voice. Some of the top email builders provide you with a saved styles option to upload and save your brand kit so every email you create can automatically populate with your branding.

5. Clear Use of CTAs

Call to actions help readers understand and know what to do next after reading or viewing the content in your email newsletter.

This helps you to accomplish your business goals, whether it be converting prospects to buyers, engaging employees within the organization, or whatever other reason you have for sending communications in the first place.

6. Designed Email Footer

Don’t overlook the value of your email footer. While it appears on every email and is at the very bottom, it has a lot to offer! Be sure to design your footer with your company’s branding in mind, but also to take time and consider what information is of value to add within the footer.

It’s often a place where people scroll to find helpful links (i.e. shipping and returns policy) or to get in contact with your business.

7. Tried and Tested

Email newsletters tend to go to a mass audience, so don’t hit send without seeing how it looks and double checking your links. If you’re stuck sending email newsletters designed with HTML, you’ll have to spend time testing it across devices and email providers.

Instead, you can leverage HTML emails that are designed in email builders and can be exported to your email provider of choice. With email builder like Publicate tou can even make use of the direct integrations with Gmail and Outlook so no need to export at all!

Email builders give you peace of mind that the newsletters you build are already tested, so you have one less thing to worry about.

8. Capitalize on Templates

With the use of email builders and templates, you can always and immediately be off to a solid start. With a wide choice of hundreds of fully customizable templates you can fin the perfect one for your needs.

Plus templates incorporate newsletter design best practices while removing the need for coders and designers. This grants you more time to focus on the content itself and also to take care of the other responsibilities on your plate.

9. Care for Color

You can use color in your favor. Along with incorporating your brand’s color palette to make it recognizable, you can use color to break up different sections of text and information.

Keep in mind that the color of your text should be legible above any background color (i.e. don’t use yellow text on top of an orange background).

10. Make it Skimmable

It’s likely that readers will skim your email newsletter, so design with skimming in mind. To do so, break up sections using large header text, different colors, and imagery. Be sure that call-to-action buttons jump out at the reader, even if they are to run through the email quickly.

Woman working on laptop
Picture from Unsplash

How to Create Newsletter Templates?

While there are a lot of reasons to send email newsletters, their purpose tends to repeat over time. So, you can create or leverage existing newsletter templates to help save yourself time. To create and use newsletter templates efficiently, remember to:

1. Save Content Blocks

Once you’ve designed an email newsletter, such as a monthly newsletter, save it as a template because you’ll want to reuse the same email header and email footer each time. Then, you can swap out content blocks and text to create a new newsletter in less time.

2. Use Email Builders

Email builders come stocked with hundreds of customizable newsletter templates for any reason and season. Simply find the email newsletter that fits your needs and use drag-and-drop functions to make it your own.

With the aid of an email builder, you can save time and money, while being able to focus your attention on the content that drives engagement.

Plus, you can access detailed analytics like click rates, open rates and heat maps so that you don’t have to guess whether your campaigns are performing like you’d want them to, or if you need to make adjustments.

You can leverage email builders that directly integrate with Gmail, Outlook, and your favorite email providers so that you can export and send your emails exactly how you already know how to.

What are the Top Newsletter Design Trends?

Newsletter design best practices are based on the trends of time. It is a form design after all! Here are some trends you’ve likely seen yourself this year:

1. Dark Backgrounds

Minimalist design has been on trend for a while. As much as bold colors are making their comeback, dark backgrounds are entering the scene to make for an edgy and sophisticated design aesthetic.

2. 3D

To make things pop, companies are turning to 3D effects and illustrative styles, making it as if the text is jumping off the screen.

Wondering what trend is here to stay? The use of personalization! Given mass communications, people still feel like something is made for them. You can accomplish this sentiment by adding personalized elements to your email newsletter design.

Whether you do so by incorporating merge tags (for names) or segmenting your audience and customizing design for each cohort, it’s a good way to make your audience feel special.

Closing Thoughts

Whatever newsletter design best practices you choose to incorporate or focus on, you can make it easier on yourself (save time, drive engagement and focus on the content that matters) with the use of an email builder.

Email builders already take care of the most critical best practices for you by providing you with fully customizable templates.

Without having to rely on a coder or designer, anyone has the power to create, export, and send beautiful, aesthetic, and engaging email newsletters to their preferred email service provider like Gmail and Outlook!